• A Rant About Mobile Wallets

    “Mobile wallet” launching in Canada within six months, carriers currently in final talks with banks - April, 2012

    Rogers and CIBC launching “suretap” later this month, will bring mobile payments to Canada with NFC-enabled BlackBerry devices - October, 2012

    RBC launching Secure Cloud, promises cloud-based mobile payments for Canadians - July, 2013

    TD Bank and PC Financial announce Ugo, ‘Canada’s First Open Mobile Wallet’ - November, 2013

    Ok, seriously... this madness needs to stop. Carriers and banks in this country have messed up mobile wallets so bad that honestly, I'm no longer interested. That last headline is particularly insulting; the requirements for the "Ugo" system are a TD or President's Choice credit card — in what universe can you call that "open"?

    Rogers' Suretap is even worse, working only with a CIBC account and requiring a special NFC-enabled SIM card. But it won't work with iPhone, only Android and BlackBerry devices that already have the technology on-board. And enjoying RBC's Secure Cloud at some unnamed point in the future will require service from both RBC and Bell.

    It didn't have to be this way, you know...

    This is a receipt of my first and only successful Google Wallet purchase in Canada, made possible in late 2011 by an early alpha of CyanogenMod 9 and a $10 USD credit for new Wallet users from Google . It was every bit as convenient as a PayPass MasterCard and whatever VISA calls its identical technology. And I've not since been able to replicate that success — even with proper Google Wallet support on other ROMs.

    The new Nexus 5 and other KitKat devices will have support for NFC Host Card Emulation, which looks very much like a way to sidestep the proprietary wares of both banks and carriers, making mobile wallets actually usable on Android as a result. But according to Google's own support pages it won't work in Canada:

    *Must be used with a US-based SIM card.
    While Google may be the bearer of bad news, I put the blame for this squarely on the banks.

    You might be led to believe that credit card companies (via the banks that offer them) are just trying to protect you from someone stealing your phone and going "tap, tap, tap" all over the city, buying cars, big-screen TVs, tickets to Vegas... you get the idea. This is a lie.

    It ignores the founding principle of the relationship between you and the bank that issued your credit card. You won't find it on any card holder agreement; it's a tacit understanding and the reason why some kind of card is always available with no annual fee. The deal is this: in return for charging you outrageous interest rates on the balance that you carry, they're supposed to have your back on any fraudulent charges to your account.

    These hyper-secure (i.e. non-standard) mobile wallet systems are just the banks shirking their responsibilities as a safe point for fraudulent use. At the very least they want in on that sweet, sweet user tracking and extra fees made possible with this new form of electronic payment.

    Meanwhile, in Japan, this all seems to have been figured out years ago. Though I wasn't able to pay for anything with my Nexus when I visited last spring, I was nonetheless amazed that the NFC-based transit cards there not only worked across multiple rail lines —owned by different companies, if you didn't know — but across multiple cities, as well.

    That it's somehow so monumentally difficult to get this Presto thing installed system-wide on Toronto's TTC gives me zero hope that mobile wallets will ever be anything beyond a proprietary mess. At the very least I should be able to install an app from my bank and use it with the NFC chip that's already on my phone; instead, each of us has to wait for that narrow intersection of compatible carrier, credit card and mobile OS.

    To all Canadian banks and carriers: You're doing it wrong.

    This article was originally published in forum thread: A Rant About Mobile Wallets started by acurrie View original post
    Comments 12 Comments
    1. kEiThZ's Avatar
      kEiThZ -
      Mobile payments won't take off in Canada unless somebody like Google steps into the space. The banks and carriers have no interest in a common standard.
    1. acurrie's Avatar
      acurrie -
      If I could add Play Store gift cards to my Wallet balance, or even just top it up online, I'd be totally okay with that.
    1. lvlagnum's Avatar
      lvlagnum -
      That was an amazing video demonstrating NFC payment in Japan, acurrie. Thank you for posting it.

      I'm guessing part of the security of such retail transactions comes in the form of the very limited transmission range NFC has. But still, just like when one shields inputting his or her PIN during a credit card transaction, one would have to be cautious about what other NFC receiver might be near or what you tap your phone against?

      Until there is widespread standardisation, as it looks like there is in Japan, NFC retail transactions becoming common in Canada will likely remain as a banker's wet dream.

      Google and other corporations seem to have, in many ways, more power than some governments do nowadays. If it isn't Google who promotes and regulates such standardisation, who else will? I'm not condoning it or saying that approach is right but sometimes someone besides governments has to push ahead and make progress.

      I'm a bit of a traditionalist in I prefer to carry enough cash to make small purchases in case my debit or credit cards don't work or the store reader is malfunctioning or on those rare occasions when part or the whole electronic banking system is out. But I have been known to accidentally leave my wallet at home on now and then and it would be nice to have a reliable backup method of payment such as NFC by using my cell phone.
    1. schultzter's Avatar
      schultzter -
      I think part of the issue is the banking laws in Canada are a mix of federal and provincial. In Quebec at least there is quite a bit of protection for the consumers against fraud that the banks are responsible for. So Google might only support US-based SIM cards because they don't have enough lawyers on staff to figure out every region's consumer protection and banking laws!

      The other part of the problem is there's so many pieces that need to work together, it's not just a matter of installing an app on your phone.

      I currently use Stocard for all my loyalty cards, library cards, etc. Anything with a bar code (and few without but at least the card isn't in my wallet). Stores with the old scanners still need to type the number in manually - they can't read the code off a screen. I still need to carry my Air Miles and Aeroplan cards because gas station pumps use the magnetic strip reader.

      As for the credit cards, every store I've been to I've tried to use the NFC transmitter built into my card since the PIN chip got scratched and doesn't work any more. Guess what! None of the stores has readers that are equipped for NFC! They look like they are, but the NFC isn't activated. So once again, I would still need to carry my credit card because most merchants can't handle NFC yet.

      The real challenge, the real news, will be when a lot more merchants are equipped to handle NFC. And when there's a generic payment app that works with the card and bank I already have on the phone I've got and independent of my carrier.

      And when my carrier's ToS do NOT include a provision to track all my purchases and send me targeted advertising based on my purchasing habits. I can see a lot of "we see you buy a lot of bananas, perhaps you'd be interested in purchasing a pet monkey?"
    1. lvlagnum's Avatar
      lvlagnum -
      That is some very interesting and valid information, schultzer. You've definitely given me some points I hadn't thought of. Thank you for posting it. I guess I wont be taking those 50 dollar bills out from under the insoles of my shoes just quite yet.
    1. kav2001c's Avatar
      kav2001c -
      Considering every credit card issued here already has tap to pay via wireless I fail to see any reason to even want a mobile wallet app
      Most of these apps do nothing more than store your credit card info... a card which is smaller than your phone, requires no charging so never runs out of battery, is far easier to carry in a wallet or pocket, has built in fraud protection, and is accepted everywhere without businesses requiring to purchase new readers

      What benefit do you actually see to this tech?
      (as you mentioned you already see the cost + logistic nightmare to install Presto on transit systems...)

      Also I'd point out US credit card systems are far less secure than ours which I am guessing is why they can implement wallet systems faster (& also why they get more fraud)
      Many US banks do NOT even require a PIN for credit card (scary but true)
    1. enr's Avatar
      enr -
      Like lambs to the slaughter, the product just walked in the door of the store and its time to feast.

      Expect to see these three things on the mobile wallet front:

      -- Google Wallet adds non-payment capabilities: When Google Wallet launched two years ago, it was completely focused on payments. More recently, however, Google recently announced an updated Google Wallet app, which allows consumers to save content to Google Wallet such as loyalty cards and offers. With more than 50 percent of smartphone users on the Android operating system, Google Wallet now gives marketers access to a broader audience. Expect to see more retailers and brands incorporate this mobile wallet technology to engage with consumers to drive loyalty and sales.

      -- Passbook scanner: The most interesting new feature Apple has added to Passbook in the new iOS 7 operating system is a scanning feature that allows consumers to scan QR codes to receive mobile wallet content. Now, they will be able to activate Passes by scanning print media, direct mail, in-store signage directly from the Passbook app, making it even simpler for consumers to add mobile wallet content.

      -- Personalized, perpetual offers and loyalty: Mobile is the ultimate form of personalized media because it is intimate and unique to the consumer. This is why it is important for marketers to create personalized and contextually relevant content based on consumers’ preferences. In addition, the dynamic nature of the mobile wallet can turn a one-time offer into a perpetual coupon. Once an offer is installed, marketers can update any or all of the content and send a notification that a new offer is available, providing opportunities to try new strategies within a single campaign.
      A thing about QR codes: For the ones that are links to be opened in your browser, Sometimes they lead to a virus site. But people like the 'battery app virus'. Just need to install it and oh-crap, security thwarted by user.

      In the rush to cash in on people carrying smartphones

      Rogers has a new program called 'geo-fencing'.
      From what is thinly described by the company running it, Rogers will put antennas on the outside of stores(or maybe force GPS to stay on) that then scan for Rogers phones. Then the phone belonging to a subscriber who has 'opted in' will be sent an ad for that store. Maximum 4 per week, unless glitch glitch.
      The Rogers Alerts program is powered by Placecast’s ShopAlerts platform.
    1. kav2001c's Avatar
      kav2001c -
      Quote Originally Posted by enr View Post
      Rogers has a new program called 'geo-fencing'.
      Geo-Fencing is hardly new (nearly 10 years old at this point)
      I think you meant they are using it to try and beef up security
    1. enr's Avatar
      enr -
      Quote Originally Posted by kav2001c View Post
      Geo-Fencing is hardly new (nearly 10 years old at this point)
      I think you meant they are using it to try and beef up security
      Not for security. Maybe you thinking of them little white towers next to stores doors??? Some which are just for looks.

      For identifying opted in Rogers subscribers in order to send Ads to their smart phones from business they walk by.
    1. kav2001c's Avatar
      kav2001c -
      Quote Originally Posted by enr View Post
      Not for security. Maybe you thinking of them little white towers next to stores doors??? Some which are just for looks.

      For identifying opted in Rogers subscribers in order to send Ads to their smart phones from business they walk by.
      lol yes for security
      Geo Fencing has been on EVERYTHING from trucks making deliveries to specific locations
      It is very very old technology (google it if you must)
    1. Guest 343's Avatar
      Guest 343 -
      Hi everyone,

      Sarah from the Rogers social media team here.

      The suretap app Andrew talks about above that required a CIBC credit card was the mobile payment solution we announced last year. This past week, we announced that Rogers will launch our suretap wallet in the coming weeks.

      The suretap wallet from Rogers will let customers make payments using their smartphone – just like paying with a payment card, minus the bulky physical wallet. The suretap wallet will include a Rogers Prepaid MasterCard so it’s easier to make mobile payments using the money you already have. We’ve also added gift card functionality to the suretap wallet and can confirm that in the near future, additional cars will become available for download, including payment cards from multiple banks and payment networks and loyalty cards.
    1. gjeff12's Avatar
      gjeff12 -
      The only thing I find interesting about this is the gift cards. If I could take a few of them out that would be great. Why do we need a $10 Sim card though? I understand for debit and credit cards, but its not like gift cards have any security as they are.

      Sent with the HoFo App
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